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Common Cat Dental Problems

Oral health problems can cause a great amount of pain in cats. In this blog post, our Exeter veterinarians discuss identifying common dental problems in cats and offer prevention tips.

Oral Health In Cats

The oral health of your cat is crucial for their overall well-being. Your cat's mouth, teeth, and gums are vital for eating and vocalizing, so any damage, disease, or malfunction of these structures can cause pain and interfere with their ability to eat and communicate normally.

In addition, the bacteria and infections that cause many oral health issues in cats can spread throughout the body if left untreated. This can damage organs such as the kidneys, liver, and heart, which can seriously affect your feline friend's health and lifespan. Therefore, it is essential to maintain good oral hygiene for your cat to ensure their optimal health and well-being.

Signs of Cat Dental Problems

Some of the most common symptoms of dental disease in cats can include:

  • Bleeding, swollen, or noticeably red gums
  • Bad Breath (halitosis)
  • Visible tartar
  • Missing or loose teeth
  • Pawing at their teeth or mouth
  • Excessive drooling
  • Difficulty with or slow eating
  • Weight loss

If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above in your cat, they may be suffering from a dental health condition. In such a scenario, taking them to a veterinarian near your location as soon as possible is crucial for an examination. Early diagnosis and treatment of your cat's dental disease can significantly improve their recovery and long-term health.

Dental Diseases That Are Common In Cats

Three common dental health issues can affect a cat's teeth, gums, and other oral structures.

Periodontal Disease

Did you know that about 70% of all cats are likely to develop some periodontal disease by the time they turn three years old? This disease is caused by the bacteria present in plaque that accumulates on their teeth over time. If your cat's teeth are not cleaned regularly, the plaque will harden and form tartar below and above the gum line, leading to infection.

The bacteria trapped below the gum line can cause inflammation and damage the structures supporting your cat's teeth. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to severe gum infection, loss of teeth, and even organ damage as the bacteria spreads throughout the body.


Feline stomatitis is a very painful inflammation and ulceration – opening of sores – of your cat's gums, cheeks, and tongue.

Persians and Himalayans are predisposed to developing this condition, but any cat can develop stomatitis.

Cats with this condition often suffer from extreme pain and, as a result, have reduced appetites. In some cases, cats will become malnourished because it is so painful for them to eat. If your cat develops a mild case, at-home care might be enough to treat their stomatitis. However, severe cases require surgical intervention.

Tooth Resorption

Tooth resorption is the gradual destruction of a tooth or multiple teeth in a cat's mouth. This issue is relatively common in our feline companions, affecting approximately three-quarters of middle-aged and older cats.

When a cat suffers from tooth resorption, their body begins to break down their tooth's hard outer layer, loosening it and causing pain. This destruction occurs below your cat's gum line, which can be challenging to detect without a dental X-ray.

However, if your cat suddenly prefers soft foods or swallows their food without chewing, they may suffer from this condition.

Preventing Tooth Problems in Cat

One of the best ways to help prevent your cat from developing dental problems is to brush their teeth routinely and keep your kitty's mouth clean. Your cat's teeth and gums will have a much better chance of remaining healthy if plaque is brushed or wiped away before it can cause damage or infection.

To help keep your kitty's teeth in tip-top condition, bring your pet in for a professional dental examination and cleaning once a year. When you bring your cat to Pacific Crest Companion Animal Veterinary Hospital for a dental appointment, it's like taking them to a dentist for a checkup.

To prevent oral health issues from developing in the first place, you should begin cleaning your cat's teeth and gums while they are still kittens, and they should be able to adjust to the process quickly. If your cat won't allow you to clean their teeth, dental treats and foods are also available to help you keep your cat's teeth healthy.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Contact our veterinary clinic in Exeter immediately if your cat exhibits signs of dental disease or discomfort.

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Pacific Crest Companion Animal is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Exeter companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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